Buraku Liberation News  November 1999 No.111

Foreigner Wins Discrimination Suit.
CERD was First Applied in a Ruling.

The Hamamatsu Branch of the Shizuoka District Court on 12 October 1999 ordered a jewelry storeowner to pay 1.5 million yen (about US$ 14,700) in damages to a Brazilian for trying to throw her out of his shop because she is a foreigner.

The Court ordered the storeowner to compensate Ms Ana Bortz, a TV reporter living in Hamamatsu City, for discrimination against her simply because she is a foreigner.

"Banning foreigners from a store has an element of treating them cruelly because of their differences and is not appropriate behavior," Presiding Judge Tetsuro So said as he handed down the ruling. He said, "Japan is a signatory to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and that treaty is as effective as a domestic law."

"It's the first time the CERD has been applied in interpreting an illegality. It was an epoch-making decision that outlawed discrimination against individuals," a lawyer for her told reporters.

Ms Bortz walked into the jewelry store in June 1998. While she was looking at some products on display, the storeowner approached her and asked her nationality.
When she replied that she is Brazilian, the owner told her that foreigners are banned from entering the store. He tried to force her out, showing her a police pamphlet warning against theft. The storeowner had also set up signs in his store saying that foreigners are banned from his premises.

She strongly protested the storeowner's racism. She demanded a written apology, but the storeowner refused, so she sued him. 

She claimed that it was wrong of the owner to eject a customer from the shop on the grounds of race. Japan acceded to CERD in December 1995.

The owner said he had to limit the number of customers entering the store as a crime-prevention measure. He claims he did not ask her to leave the store because she was a Brazilian. 

Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, has one of the largest populations of Brazilians in Japan. About 10,000 of the South Americans, mostly Japanese descendants, live and work in the city, which has a total population of 548,000.

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